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More chaos in the Middle East as blasts in Iran kill 103 people

The Middle East was plunged into more chaos when at least 103 people were killed and 141 wounded in twin blasts in the southern Iranian city of Kerman on Wednesday (3rd), Iranian media reported. It was not immediately clear who was responsible.

It was not clear if the attacks were carried out by one of the dissident groups within Iran, or if they were somehow connected to the Gaza War. Iran has remained the arch-enemy of Israel for decades.

Tensions have been rising across the Middle East from the start of the Gaza War in October, with the attacks by Iranian-backed Houthis of Yemen against shipping in the Red Sea adding another dimension to the situation. The U.S. has openly accused Iran of encouraging the Houthis to attack shipping, and claimed that an attack on a ship near India two weeks ago had been by a drone launched from Iran.

The blasts took place at an event marking the 4th anniversary of the death of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps General Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated in a U.S. drone attack while he was in Iraq.

Soleimani was the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps elite Quds Force when he was killed in January 2020 in the U.S. strike at Baghdad’s international airport.

He was famed for his key role in spreading Iranian influence in the Middle East. Soleimani strengthened Iran’s ties with Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as Syria’s al-Assad and Shia fighters in Iraq.

The blasts came just hours after an apparent Israeli drone strike in the Lebanese capital Beirut killed the deputy leader of Hamas, which is backed by Iran.

Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the blasts, as did the Houthi government in Yemen.

It was not clear if the blasts were suicide bombings or bombs placed by the roadside. Iran's authorities vowed to track down the perpetrators.

The Head of Iran’s Judiciary, Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, released a statement saying, “The agents and perpetrators of this grievous crime will undoubtedly be punished.”

The blasts took place at 2:50 p.m. Iranian time about 700m from the mausoleum of the slain general.

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